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Southern Oregon University

Geographic Settingcrater lake phantom ship

Our field-oriented curriculum takes advantage of the unique environmental setting of our region and provides opportunities to work with local agencies.Southern Oregon, with its Klamath and Cascade Mountains and interior valleys, is an ideal location for studying and experiencing a variety of environmental issues, including water resources, endangered species, timber, natural hazards, and urban growth issues. In addition, the city of Ashland provides a small-town atmosphere complete with various recreational opportunities, including mountain biking, whitewater rafting, skiing, hiking, and kayaking.

Environmental Studies Practicum Opportunities

The ES program encourages and gives academic credit for work experiences with local environmental agencies and organizations. Opportunities include working with the USDA, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service (Crater Lake), local watershed councils, Jackson County, local city and county planning departments, state and federal agencies, and local environmental organizations. Practicum and work-study experiences with the Environmental Studies program lead to contacts and job offers upon graduation with these same organizations.

The following quote from a local land management agency representative illustrates the philosophy of the Environmental Studies degree:

"We use a team approach in natural resource management. Our scientists rarely work independently from other science or social science disciplines. We look for employees who are comfortable with the concepts from a variety of disciplines and can work together on complex resource-related projects." (Bureau of Land Management)

Here is a list of previous practicum experiences of ES students.

Project Type

Cooperating Agency/Organization


Air quality

Climate modeling

Land use planning

Mapping (GIS)

Jackson County Health Department

Jackson County and local cities

Jackson County GIS Services

Student surveying near Pilot Rock

Coho inventory, recovery

Poplar trees, water reclamation

Wetlands investigation

Noxious weed removal

North Mountain Park stewardship

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Rogue Valley Council of Governments

City of Medford

City of Ashland, WISE Project

Bureau of Land Management, Rogue River National Forest

Ashland Parks and Recreation

Students in the Woods


Environmental education

Environmental education

North Mountain Park

Bear Creek Watershed Council Education Partners

Oregon Stewardship

Ashland Parks and Recreation

Site 1


Ground water data analysis

Geology field mapping

Sediment analysis

Earthquake public awareness

Geology of North Mountain Park

Jackson County, WISE Project

Jackson County and Oregon Geology and Mineral Industries

SOU, Jackson County

SOU, local schools, local cities

Ashland Parks and Recreation



Rural and urban surface water quality

Water quality data analysis

Watershed protection

Watershed analysis field work

Jackson County and local cities

Rogue Valley Council of Governments

Bear Creek and Evan's Creek Watershed Council

Upper Rogue Watershed Council

Student in N. Mountain Park Pond


Urban growth, agriculture

Urban growth issues support

GIS projects

Rogue Valley Council of Governments

SOU, Jackson County

Students meeting


National Recognition

Outside Magazine highlighted the Environmental Studies Program and Southern Oregon University as number twenty in their "top forty universities to learn, live, work, and play."